Friday, December 18, 2009

Bushed from de-bushing.

If you've been following along here or on my FaceBook page, you know I'm restoring a piano. Right now, just about every task is repeated 88 times, but there are some things, like repairing 2 broken keys, that aren't...and those are nice diversions.

Currently I am "de-bushing" all the keys. Under the front of each key is a hole that sits on a pin when installed in the keyboard "tray". The hole is oblong and the pin is round. The oblong hole allows for a pivoting motion when the key is played. Inside the oblong hole, glued to the "long" sides is some thin red felt, and it is called a "bushing". I suppose the felt keeps the key press silent (no wood on metal rubbing. Anyway, a lot of that bushing felt was deteriorated, so I am removing it.

I can do about 10 keys in a half hour. I clamped a heat gun to my work table and set it on low heat. Then I wave a bushed hole over the heat, about 5 inches away to keep from scorching the wood. This softens the glue. It takes about 15-20 seconds for the glue to soften just right. Then I use a dental tool to pull the felt out. When it cools a little I scrape off most of the glue residue. That's a couple of minutes.

So far 70 keys have been debushed. Replacement bushing felt will be ordered soon. A roll of it that is enough for all 88 keys is something like 4 bucks. Aluminum wedges, used to insert the new bushing material and hold it in place till the glue dries, cost about 10 bucks. The rest is just time. Not difficult at all and it should make for a quality restoration.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ou sont les serviettes de table?

OK, enough of that.

Is it the same for you? Whenever I go to McDonalds they do not just give me napkins anymore. I’m pretty sure that some accountant did some number crunching and decided that a lot of money was just thrown away by either giving away too many napkins, or people taking more than they need. So I imagine that employees have been told “Only give napkins if the customer specifically asks for them.”

One problem could be those people who take extra napkins just to have in the car or the office. Guilty! However, I don’t throw them away unused. And now, when I am not just given napkins I want to take even more for “just in case.” Did the accountants think about that?

Monday, December 07, 2009

88: 12/07/2009

Late last week I used my air compressor to blow much of the dust off the keys.

Yesterday I used "Simple Green" to clean all the black keys, then started to scrape remaining glue residue off the white keys, where I had removed the ivory a few years ago.

In order to glue on the pretty new white plastic keytops, I need to clean the sides of the keys first. I started scraping, but felt that was going to take off too much wood, so I will go back to what I did on about 10 of them before...scrub with bleach. Those that I bleached look really nice. Once I decided that course of action, I felt it was time to stop for the evening. Tonight I will do the bleaching on several more keys and and probably finish the residue scraping. Once the bleached keys dry I can do the final wood prep and glue on the new plastic.

Pics next time.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


...times who knows what.

Several years ago I was given a piano. It is a full upright with beautiful mahogany veneer. The finish is messed up, likely due to being stored in basements. I did some research back then and found that it was built in 1910. My plan was to renovate it as well as I could. Well, that was put on hold due to lots of reasons, but my idea was always to have it COMPLETE in 2010 and to rechristen it for a 100 year piano party.

It’s now time to get busy again if I want to meet that goal. A lot of the work on the keys and hammers can be done in the basement next to the fireplace. I already had 87 of the hammers working and only 2 of the keys need repair. BUT there is a lot of cosmetic work…cleaning, replacing keytops, and replacing felt everywhere. If I can get all that done over the winter, then I can do the cabinet work (stripping, refinishing, fixing broken veneer) in the spring and summer. Would be nice if I got it all done and tuned for a summer or fall party, don’t you think?

So, last night I set up a worktable in the basement and brought in the keys and hammers. They have gotten really dusty from sitting around and I think some mice chewed up some of the felt. I have to fix 2 broken keys, and a variety of simpler cosmetic wood repairs, and install new white plastic on the white keys (and only clean the blacks).

In case you don’t know about a piano, it basically consists of 88 copies of 1 working mechanism. That mechanism transfers a key press to a hammer stroke against a wire. There are MANY MANY pieces in just 1 mechanism. That is why I put “88 times who knows what”. You never know what might need fixing or adjusting.

Will take and post pics as I go. Of particular interest should be the wood repairs.
Stay "tuned".